Welcome to day two of the blog tour for Kate Thompson and ‘The Wedding Girls’, published on the 9th March 2017 by PanMacmillan. Huge thank you to Jess Duffy and PanMacmillan for asking me to be involved in the tour for such a beautiful looking book! On my stop today, I have a book review of ‘The Wedding Girls’, I hope you enjoy!
If a wedding marks the first day of the rest of your life, then the story starts with the dress.
It’s 1936 and the streets of London’s East End are grimy and brutal, but in one corner of Bethnal Green it is forever Hollywood . . .
Herbie Taylor’s photography studio is nestled in the heart of bustling Green Street. Tomboy Stella and troubled Winnie work in Herbie’s studio; their best friend and hopeless romantic Kitty works next door as an apprentice dressmaker. All life passes through the studio, wishing to capture that perfect moment in time.
Kitty works tirelessly to create magical bridal gowns, but with each stitch she wonders if she’ll ever get a chance to wear a white dress. Stella and Winnie sprinkle a dusting of Hollywood glamour over happy newly-weds, but secretly dream of escaping the East End . . .
Community is strong on Green Street, but can it stand the ultimate test? As clouds of war brew on the horizon, danger looms over the East End. Will the Wedding Girls find their happy ever afters, before it’s too late?
What does TWG think?
You are probably aware of the wedding programs circulating on the television, programs like ‘Say Yes To The Dress’ and ‘Don’t Tell The Bride’, yes? So many beautiful dresses and family traditions appear on the screen in such a short space of time, but HOW exactly did those things (wedding dresses/traditions), become such an important factor of a wedding day? How did those traditions begin? And there’s the photographs, the important memory of a wedding day…yet one of the most difficult to perfect…
The year is 1936, three years before World War II, but circumstances in London aren’t exactly rosy, yet the residents of Green Street pride themselves in solidarity through the hard times. In ‘The Wedding Girls’ we follow a group of best friends, Kitty, Stella and Winnie as they go about their lives working with wedding dresses and wedding photographs. Despite 1936 being eighteen years after the first world war, poverty is rife throughout the city and families are living in buildings where the word ‘inhabitable’ is a severe understatement. ‘Auntie’ wants to take a stand against their living conditions, especially since Kitty’s world has fallen down around her; but is ‘Auntie’s’ stand too late? All three girls want to do something with their lives, make a difference and be able to live without looking over their shoulders constantly. Little do they know that situations in Bethnal Green aren’t going to become rosy anytime soon.
Over the past few weeks, my love for historical romance/saga novels has increased dramatically; yet I still felt a deep hunger for a certain extra something within the books. I just had no idea what it was I wanted the book to tell me, until now. As soon as I began reading ‘The Wedding Girls’, I just knew that I was going to love it and putting the book down to do adult things wasn’t going to be an option. The cover of the novel may be all serene and beautiful, yet the storyline absolutely blew my mind, showing me that there was A LOT more to ‘The Wedding Girls’ than I originally thought. From a historical point of view, the entire novel kept feeding my knowledge and made me feel as though I was transported back to 1936 in reality. Every description of living arrangements became vivid imagery within my mind, opening my eyes to how much we take things for granted nowadays. I loved learning about the history behind wedding dresses and the wedding photography, it was interesting to see how popular traditions today, have travelled through times and how important they were back then.
If you’re thinking that this book is going to be as sparkly as Randy from Say Yes To The Dress, you need to think again. Whilst it’s sparkly in terms of beauty, the storyline contains enough depth to rival ‘How Deep is Your Love’ by the Bee Gee’s. It’s deep and incredibly moving. Kate Thompson has kept the historical events the gritty, gruesome, devastating moments that they were in 1936; and for that, I applaud her. Kate Thompson hasn’t shied away from those heart breaking moments where people lost lives and poverty was more than eating one meal as opposed to a usual three course meal. Instead the author has taken those memorable parts of our history, written about them in a way which a lot of readers will understand and digest, as well as giving us readers the opportunity to open our eyes to our own countries history. Where do you think some of the items we have now came from? Don’t get me wrong, some parts of this novel was quite shocking to read as it was pretty vivid and so heart breaking. But, saying that, it’s easy for me to say that now purely reading about it when, unlike thousands of other people, I wasn’t alive when people were getting killed for being….there.
From a fictitious point of view, I feel bad saying that I loved the storyline due to the emotional value that it contains, but, I did love it. It really is a book that just keeps on giving, especially as all of the main characters (not just the three girls), brought their own individuality to the novel in ways I had never seen before. ‘The Wedding Girls’ really did make me think. Yes, learning about where the wedding traditions came from and how brides just wanted one day to feel their most beautiful, was truly interesting and such a fascinating read. However, what really grabbed my attention was the community spirit that the residents of Green Street had. They all knew each other, helped each other and loved each other to their last breath. If one person required their help then the whole street would be out in force to support that one person. It didn’t matter whether the person was working or whether they were minding their children at home; they all came together. The community spirit within ‘The Wedding Girls’ puts our community to shame ten times over. In 1936 they only really had the clothes on their backs but they had each other, multiple skills and enough warmth in their hearts to keep themselves, and each other, warm.
I am in awe at Kate Thompson’s research skills, attention to detail and her strength to tell a gut wrenching story in such a black and white way, staying true to the thousands of men and women who stood up for themselves and what they believed in. Kate Thompson has written a mind-blowing, emotional, and powerful novel which is destined to say in your heart and mind for a very, very long time.
If I could hug the author right now, I would. I could carry on shouting about this novel for ages if you let me, but I know that I can’t do that, so you’ll just have to read it yourself.
Full of extremely poignant moments, emotional circumstances and heart warming friendships, The Wedding Girls is a book not to be missed. A phenomenal, eye-opening read about dangers from way back when, The Wedding Girls will fill your heart and soul with enough spirit so you too could feel like you’re indestructible.
This is by far one of my most favourite books ever and Kate Thompson, you are a literary genius. Truly.
Thank you so much Jess Duffy & Panmacmillan.